A Sound of Thunder
It Was Metal
Band / Release Notes'It Was Metal' graphic novel is a companion piece to the 'It Was Metal' album.
9/14/2018 - Review by: Frank Hill
Half the crowning achievement along with the music release
Comics and hard rock have had the occasional meeting of the media over the years; an intersection of in-your-face entertainment. Rock merchandise legends KISS appeared in Marvel Comics' Howard the Duck #12 way back in 1977. In the late 80s and early 90s, "Rock 'N' Roll Comics" was a series published by Revolutionary Comics with bio-features on bands like Guns 'N Roses, Metallica, Bon Jovi, and Led Zeppelin. Alice Cooper's 20th studio album 'The Last Temptation' was accompanied by a 3-part comic by writer extraordinaire Neil Gaiman. Megadeth had their "Cryptic Writings" under Chaos Comics. Cannibal Corpse had a comic. Thrash monsters Slayer recently put out the comic 'Repentless' to go along with their album of the same name. Iron Maiden's famous mascot, Eddie, has his own title on the racks.
Formed in 2008, A Sound of Thunder have been pulverizing the DC area/East Coast of the USA with their blend of classic heavy metal, progressive, and rock music. At an unrelenting pace, the Northern Virginia natives have been releasing high-quality heavy metal almost every year by utilizing self-funding and successful Kickstarter campaigns. They are also highly engaged with social sites and fond of nerd media like comic books.
For their latest venture titled, 'It Was Metal', the band has decided to release a full-length album and a companion graphic novel anthology that includes a short story based on each song. The book features artwork and stories by well-known, professional artists and writers from the industry's biggest names--Marvel Comics, DC Comics, and Valiant Entertainment.
Because there are 10 stories within a 60 page run, all the stories are made to be artistically taut and concise in dialog. Panels are given motion for expression and exposition is kept to a minimum. Stories range from sci-fi to fantasy to horror and more. Note, there are scenes of gore and dismemberment, so this is not a book for younger kids.
In Phantom Flight, old technology and the ultimate sacrifice saves the human race from an alien invasion. Look for Mark Tornillo, vocalist of Accept, as a main character.
At a short four pages, Lifebringer's palette of amber and brown shades switch from parched desert thirst to green hues of Nature's growth in this fantasy grail quest for a sacred sword. The watercolor-based art really stands out from the other styles.
The first of the historic tales, Atlacatl, portrays the legend of the indigenous ruler who chose between enslavement and dying free when faced with the Spanish conquest of Mesoamerica in the early-1500s. Gorgeous coloring highlights the myth.
The album track It Was Metal is a straight-forward, chestbeater about the glory of heavy metal. But within the sci-fi story, which is one my favorites from the book, metal becomes the ultimate weapon in a war between two races. It's a wonderful representation of the love we have for our music of power.
If you want to make some sense of Obsidian & Gold (Desdinova Returns), you may want to research the more obscure 'Imaginos' title from Blue Öyster Cult's discography and the lyrics of Sandy Pearlman. The song "Astronomy" would be a start, but expect as many more questions than answers as you go along. Fans of BÖC should enjoy the Easter eggs sprinkled in the images and words. It's dark visuals and esoteric theme reminds me of the early DC comics line of Vertigo titles like Hellblazer.
Second Lives is pure horror in the vein of Edgar Allen Poe. A grieving woman sets out on a murderous path for endless love. It's sketch and ink style recalls the well-known, 30-year old comic The Crow from James O'Barr. It would certainly drip gore were it not for its stark black and white design.
Last year, A Sound of Thunder released the single "Els Segadors (The Reapers)". The metallized epic, based on The National Anthem of Catalonia, took on extra life during the region's current move for independence from Spain. The story, however, imagines an early moment in the Catalan Revolt (1640–52) that led to the death of Spanish viceroy Dalmau de Queralt. If you want blood, you got it. This one delivers with lots of red and bold colors; its ending a gruesome take on Eugène Delacroix' famous painting "Liberty Leading the People" where instead of a flag, a much bloodier object is held high.
Continuing the heavy metal history lesson is the story of Tomyris a female leader of Central Asia who, by some accounts, led her armies and defeated Cyrus the Great around 530 B.C. Her image has been painted and her deeds mentioned numerous times in art and literature, but not so much in the current Western tradition of study. Here, her tale of defiance and survival is brought to life again by ASOT. The artwork is done in a sketch style with parchment coloring that suggests woodcuts from past ages.
Charles II, illustrates what could have been a graverobber's work song or maybe even a drunken sport chant into a dark comedy that would fit right in a classic EC Comics horror book. It's heavy inking and blue and yellowish monochrome colors really differ among all the stories. What would the "Merry Monarch" have thought of his own story-quest for longer life? He probably would've chuckled his arse off like I did.
The last of the stories, Fortress of the Future Race, is also the most artistically modern. Returning to a sci-fi theme, an inventor's lapse in judgement leaves a time travelling device in the hands of evil. But there is a team ready to win victory for humanity. Of all the stories, this one could best lend itself to a full, series treatment.
In addition to ten short stories, the book also features complete album lyrics, additional pin-ups, photos, and more. Of particular note, it's really cool to see certain Kickstarter backers drawn into the comic as characters.
Comic books and metal are in their own worlds, but sometimes those worlds are pulled together by similar gravities of interest. ASOT is a hard-working, talented group that acknowledges and rewards their fans. Rumor has it that KISS added some of their own blood to one of their early comics; probably a finger prick's worth. A Sound of Thunder may have upped them with the sweat and toil and money and stress involved in their new music/book combo. This book is half the crowning achievement of 'It Was Metal' along with the music release. They are twin pieces that deserve to be seen and heard together; the soundtrack for one and the visuals for the other enhancing each. Overall, 'It Was Metal' is an amazing achievement for the band.
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